[The following note describes a series of company records and has no document records attached to it. To see the document records in the volumes and folders described here, use the "Which Series Notes?" button to enter the Series Notes or use the "Next Text" button to move to the first item in the series.]
The Edison Storage Battery Co. (ESBCo) was organized in New Jersey on May 27, 1901, in order to develop, manufacture, and sell Edison's alkaline storage battery. Edison served as the company's first president; Walter S. Mallory, as vice president; and John F. Randolph, as secretary and treasurer. The company was initially capitalized at one million dollars. The capitalization was increased to $3.5 million in 1910 and to $5 million in 1917, largely to reduce the company's indebtedness to Edison, who financed much of the battery research. Commercial manufacture of a nickel-iron battery began in January 1903 but was suspended on November 1, 1904, when the "E" cells suffered reduced electrical capacity and leakage. After technical improvements to the production process and to the battery itself, beginning with the "A" cell, commercial manufacture resumed in 1909.
Chemicals for the batteries were manufactured in Silver Lake, New Jersey, and the batteries themselves were assembled nearby, first in Glen Ridge and later in West Orange. Despite increased orders and production, the company did not realize a net profit until 1913, due largely to its research budget and indebtedness. Research and development were performed by ESBCo's own Research Department, as well as at Edison's laboratory in West Orange. Product lines and sales structures were expanded throughout the company's history. Batteries were manufactured for mining lamps, train lighting and signaling, submarines, electric vehicles, and other uses. ESBCo had its own sales force, but it also sold batteries through separate sales companies, including one Edison companythe Edison Storage Battery Supply Co. (formed in 1913)and non-Edison companies such as Miller Reese Hutchison, Inc. (formed in 1916). Foreign sales rights were controlled at different times by various agents, including Herman E. Dick, Paul H. Cromelin, Maurice E. Fox, and John F. Monnot. After Edison's death the company was merged into Thomas A. Edison, Inc.
The records are arranged in four series: (1) Administrative Records; (2) Financial Records; (3) Plant Operations and Research Records; and (4) Sales Records. A finding aid for the archival record group is available at the Edison National Historical Park. Related documents can be found in the Notebook Series, Document File Series, and Richard W. Kellow and Harry F. Miller files in the Legal Series.
Administrative Records. These records consist of incoming and outgoing correspondence, memoranda, agreements, and other material pertaining to the administration of ESBCo. The selected records are arranged in the following order: (1) correspondence (1901-1931); (2) corporate documentation (1901-1924); and (3) letterbook (1904-1916). Among the items not selected are the minutes of the Executive Committee meetings for the period 1916-1918.
Financial Records. These records consist of bound ledgers and journals and unbound statements. The selected records are arranged in the following order: (1) annual statements (1911-1916); (2) general ledgers (1901-1917); and (3) journals (1901-1917). Among the items not selected are two journals (1920-1921); a journal of the Edison Storage Battery Garage, Inc. (1919-1926); a cash book pertaining to the Darby Mine (1905-1907); and numerous monthly statements.
Plant Operations and Research Records. These records consist of unbound and bound material relating to plant operations at ESBCo factories and to research and development done on behalf of ESBCo by its own Research Department and by Edison's West Orange laboratory. The selected items are arranged in the following order: (1) operations reports (1905-1924); (2) research reports (1901, 1914-1923); and (3) research notebook (1901-1903). Among the items not selected are an unfilled orders notebook (ca. 1901-1902); eight receiving books (1901-1916); an automobile test book (1902); five payroll abstract books (1911-1917); six plant operations log books (1920-1921); and graphs showing the performance of batteries used in automotive starters (1922-1930).
Sales Records. These records consist of reports, correspondence, and printed material pertaining to the sales organization of ESBCo. The documents relate to the salesmen and operations of ESBCo as well as to relations with the Edison Storage Battery Supply Co. and Miller Reese Hutchison, Inc. The selected items are arranged in the following order: (1) daily and monthly sales reports (1910-1924); and (2) documents relative to the business of Miller Reese Hutchison, Inc. (1911, 1916-1918). Among the items not selected are a scrapbook of advertisements and promotional articles (1912-1914) and two in-house publicationsStorage Battery Transportation and Storage Battery Power (1928-1958).